What to Expect in the Third Trimester
Congratulations, mama! You’ve made it through your first two trimesters, and you are just a few short months away from meeting your new little one! Like the previous trimesters, this time can be filled with mixed emotions (and hormones!). You might feel excited to meet your baby, nervous about childbirth, anxious to get everything done in time (hello nesting instinct!), relieved to be almost done with the aches and pains of pregnancy, and sad to be winding down on this special time.
At this point, you might be wondering what surprises remain on your road to motherhood. We’re here to help you feel prepared both for the rest of your pregnancy and for the arrival of your baby.
Homestretch: what to expect in the last months of pregnancy
The third trimester, which lasts from week 28 until you give birth, can get uncomfortable and exhausting for moms-to-be simply because the baby is taking up so much space. This is the period of growth when the baby starts storing fat, and its bones are fully developed. So you’re probably feeling more jabs in your belly, and you might get tired out more easily from the extra weight you’re carrying and the fact that the baby reduces your ability to fully fill your lungs.
As your baby grows, so will you, which can lead to stretch marks on your belly, breasts, hips, and thighs. We talked about stretch marks prevention when we covered the second trimester, but now is when you’ll likely really start relying on your belly balm to help soothe your stretching skin. You might even switch over to a stretch mark + scar balm to help heal skin that has already stretched out considerably.
In these last several weeks, you might also feel more achy and unstable as the shift in your center of gravity, plus the relaxin hormone loosening your joints in preparation for labor throws you a little off-kilter. You’re going to want to move a little more carefully as you near the end of your pregnancy, particularly when it comes to twisting motions that require a lot of involvement from your knee or hip joints.
Relaxed joints aren’t the only hurdle to contend with. Hormones also relax the valve between your stomach and esophagus, which can lead to heartburn. You can minimize discomfort by eating smaller meals, avoiding heavy foods that you notice tend to make heartburn worse, and asking your healthcare provider about safe over-the-counter remedies.
As if that wasn’t enough, you likely will also need to use the restroom more often as the baby grows and presses against your bladder, and you might find yourself experiencing varicose veins and hemorrhoids from increased blood circulation. Try elevating your legs, drinking more water, and soaking in a warm tub to help ease these uncomfortable pregnancy side effects.
The third trimester isn’t all challenges and pains, though! Your baby is growing and developing, bringing you closer and closer to parenthood (or to growing your family). Movements are more distinct, and you might even be able to distinguish a foot or elbow through your skin.
You can also start to look forward to life after the baby arrives, including preparing to breastfeed, if that is your plan for feeding baby.
Getting ready to breastfeed
The most important thing is that your baby is fed. If you expect to breastfeed to do that, you’ll likely want to do some planning.
While breastfeeding is a natural way to feed your baby, it doesn’t always feel that way. One of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success is to keep in mind that it’s not always going to be easy. Setting the appropriate expectation can help take unnecessary pressure off and help you honestly assess how things are going.
One thing many moms-to-be find helpful is to find a lactation consultant before giving birth. Some lactation consultants work directly with hospitals, while others have their own practice. Taking the time to determine whom you can contact and how you’ll be charged in advance can help take the stress out once your baby is here, especially since the first few days are the most important in establishing breastfeeding. A lactation consultant can provide support and help you find your nursing rhythm with your baby, find postures that work best and address any potential issues like sore nipples and low supply.
Another key step to breastfeeding success is finding a supportive and comfortable nursing bra and other comfortable, easy-access nursing clothes. Both the Bamboobies yoga nursing bra and super strappy nursing bra are made with soft rayon made from bamboo, offer support across the upper back to counter the weight of your milk-full breasts, and can stretch with your body as your milk supply regulates over the first few weeks of breastfeeding. Either one is a must-have for your hospital bag if you plan to breastfeed.
Your hospital bag checklist
Speaking of your hospital bag, it’s just about time to pack it! Experts recommend having your bag packed around week 35 in case you go into labor early, or in case you learn at a check-up that something isn’t quite right (for instance, if your blood pressure is too high, and your OBGYN is concerned about preeclampsia).
There are many hospital bag lists available online, but the most important items to remember to pack are:
- Comfortable nursing bras if you plan to breastfeed. Even if you don’t, your milk will still come in, so you’ll want a soft, comfortable, and supportive bra.
- A nursing-friendly shawl or open sweater to keep you warm but allow access to breastfeeding. You may also want a nursing tank top or other nursing shirts.
- Comfortable – and stretchy – pants. Keep in mind that your belly will not shrink down completely by the time you leave the hospital, you may feel sore and tender, and you will likely be using large pads and possibly perineal ice packs to aid in recovery if you have a vaginal birth. Opt for loose, soft, and spacious sweatpants rather than jeans or pre-pregnancy leggings.
- Slippers or easy-on shoes with good traction.
- Toiletries, including glasses if you typically wear contacts, especially in case of the need for an emergency C-section, as some surgeons prefer you remove contact lenses.
- Snacks for your birth partner, and for after the baby is born. Make sure they’re portable and don’t have an odor that you’re sensitive to.
- A long phone cord, especially if you want to access your phone from your hospital bed. Outlets aren’t always located right by the bed.
- Organic Nipple Balm. The first few days of breastfeeding are often the most painful as you adjust to the sensation.
- A folder or tote bag to bring home paperwork in. You’ll receive a lot of important information, and it’s helpful to keep it all together, separate from the rest of your belongings.
- Baby’s homecoming outfit!
You can simplify the process with Bamboobies hospital bag bundle, which includes an open nursing shawl, soothing therapy pillows, energy boost drink mix, disposable and washable nursing pads, and organic nipple balm.
Before you know it, you’ll be holding that sweet baby in your arms. For now, enjoy the journey, and take good care of yourself, mama!
American Pregnancy Association: Third Trimester of Pregnancy: Fetal Development
VeryWell Family: What Is Relaxin
Cleveland Clinic: Lactation Consultant
Parents: Pregnant and Nearing Your Due Date? Here's When to Pack Your Hospital Bag
Mayo Clinic: Preeclampsia
Science Direct: The Effects of Cold Application to the Perineum on Pain Relief After Vaginal Birth